Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 18th December 2021

Sales Of Gift Cards Soar As COVID Fears Rise

Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash
Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash
Sales of gift cards are at an all time high - why have UK shoppers embraced them?

But what are the pros and cons of giving loved ones the gift of choice?

All Brits want for Christmas is … a gift card! Gift cards and voucher have never been so popular with sales soaring during the pandemic and latest figures from Love2shop showing that one in four UK shoppers will be purchasing one this month alone.

In fact, the UK’s biggest and most popular gift card and voucher brand, Love2shop, saw record sales last December, a whopping 42% higher than December 2019.

And the trend is continuing as UK shoppers embrace the new generation of super handy and Covid-safe digital gifting card and voucher products - from contactless gift cards that are uploaded on to your smart phone, to e-gift cards which can be emailed or texted to friends, family and colleagues.

Physical paper gift vouchers and credit-card style gift cards are still hugely popular this time of year but the UK is embracing digital gifting like never before.

According to the Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA), almost 40 per cent of gift card buyers are now converting to digital-only gifting products.

Why give a gift card this Christmas?

Variety - With Love2shop, shoppers have the choice of over 150 brands across their products- everything from top stores like Argos and TK Max, to supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and you can even spend them on meals, days out or holidays.

Covid-proof gifting - gift-card sales have soared due to Covid as they are the ultimate way of gifting safely and remotely, especially if sending and receiving digital versions.

No more gift-typing – lazy, predictable gift-typing is when shoppers gift friends, family and work mates the same sorts of presents year after year - even when the recipient has clearly outgrown the interest! It creates waste and awkward “thanks”. With 39 per cent of Brits gift-typed according to a YouGov poll by Love2shop, give the gift of personal choice instead with a gift card.

Help the planet – every little helps when gifting a little more mindfully and gift cards not only bring joy to the receiver, they help the planet too by avoiding unnecessary waste with unwanted gifts. Even better, by purchasing digital gift cards, shoppers are shopping ‘green’ and cutting down on packaging and delivery too.

Support hard-hit retail - perhaps one of the best reasons is that they are great for boosting the pockets of hard hit high-street retailers following the pandemic. While 47 per cent of shoppers now normally redeem their gift card online, over 50 per cent still head to the high street and with that comes a huge injection of sales.

Convenience – stuck for what to buy someone you don’t know that well or need to gift someone who lives far away? Perhaps you want to give the gift of an experience rather than a physical item, then gift cards and vouchers tick the box! As the digital versions can be bought online, they also make the perfect last minute stocking filler for anyone struggling with what to buy a loved one at short notice.

You are guaranteed to bring some joy - recipients of gift cards love the element of ‘treating themselves’ and data shows that customer redemption rates are very high, with more than half of shoppers eager to spoil themselves and redeeming their gift cards within one month of being gifted, and 98.6% within a year of receipt, with many shoppers waiting for a special occasion to redeem their gift card.

Gift Cards - the Do's and Don’ts

What to watch for - getting the best out of gift cards and vouchers this Christmas:

DO: check the expiry dates. Even with half of recipients redeeming their gift voucher within a month, the experts at Love2shop recommend UK shoppers double-check any expiry dates, which can range from 12 to 24 months depending on the product and retailer.

DON’T: limit your choice to just one store if you are not sure what your receiver would like – multi-retailer cards are often the best option for those who are tricky to gift. Remember gift-typing, when people are gifted the same thing year after year is a real things with nearly 40 per cent of us being gift-typed, so always go for variety, so loved ones get what they really want.

DO: pay by credit card. If you’re buying a gift card with a value of more than £100, pay on a credit card if you can. If the retailer you buy from goes bankrupt, your card provider will be jointly liable for your purchase under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which means you’ll have a better chance of getting your money back.

DON’T: Panic if a retailer goes bust, as happened during the pandemic with some high-street shops like Top Shop and Debenhams going into administration. Some single store cards may be invalid if this happens but the good news is that customers can make a claim for their unused card and a big gift card product retailer like Love2shop will work with their customers experiencing any problems, often offering alternative products or expiry extensions.

DO: try to purchase online and ideally in digital form to be super-protected. This way you have a record of your purchase instantly and also can’t lose or mislay your voucher or card as you would with a physical plastic credit card style gift card or paper voucher.
Love2shop’s retailer list is regularly updated so check out which card or voucher can be spent where, here: